By Vincenzo Claudio Piscopo
Italy Takes First Steps Toward Multimodality with Rail, Airport Operator Agreement
On March 17, FS Italiane Group and airport manager Aeroporti di Roma signed an agreement to begin the integration of sales systems as well as passenger and baggage check-in operations directly at the main Italian railway stations connected to Rome’s Fiumicino Airport.
Aeroporti di Roma, an Atlantia Group company, manages the airports of Rome Fiumicino and Ciampino — which is located near Rome — and carries out other activities connected with and complementary to the airport management. Fiumicino has two passenger terminals and is dedicated to business and leisure customers on domestic, international and intercontinental routes, while Ciampino is mainly used by low-cost airlines, express couriers and for general aviation activities.
The FS Italiane Group controls more than 16,700 kilometers of rail infrastructure and a road network of 30,000 kilometers and manages services in rail, road, passenger, freight and public road transport.
According to a June 2021 report by the intergovernmental organization for air traffic control in Europe, EUROCONTROL, rail transport will not be able to effectively replace air transport entirely, but certainly, a multimodal transport solution — on that would combine planes and trains in a more seamless manner similar in ways to airline interline agreements — is very attractive in terms of optimizing sustainability and improving connectivity. Investment in transportation should therefore be balanced between both industries, with each feeding into the other throughout their systems.
The integration of trains and airplanes is just one action to curb climate change and reduce transport emissions, and the aviation industry has said it recognizes the need to go green and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, according to the ambitious goals of the European “Green Deal.”
To develop the train-and-air solution in Italy, the first step is the implementation of commercial agreements with air carriers at Fiumicino Airport to integrate the sales and distribution systems with the possibility to carry out passenger and baggage check-in operations directly at the main railway stations connected to the capital city airport. The aim is to board the train at a station and disembark directly at the destination of arrival, even overseas, in a simple, fast and convenient way.
In that way, the station would, in a way, become an extension of the airport terminal, a set-up that is already present in other locations around the world.
According to the press release, the infrastructural development of the Fiumicino Airport station is planned, as well as the development of road transport to improve road conditions and the inclusion of direct nonstop trains from Rome to Fiumicino airport.
The Italian aviation authority, ENAC, has already given the airport management company 300 million euros ($324 million), of which around 110 million euros have been earmarked for Aeroporti di Roma to facilitate the restart.
The agreement also includes, as part of Urban Air Mobility, the design and construction of a vertiport at Rome’s Termini Station, and the first commercial operations between Fiumicino airport and the metropolitan city of Rome are expected in 2024, a year before the 2025 Jubilee. Rome has recently applied to host EXPO 2030 and these are forward-looking choices to prepare the Italian capital.